Examine How Shakespeare Presents Love in A Variety of Forms in ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Consider How Different Characters Interpret the Meaning of Love.

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Examine How Shakespeare Presents Love in A Variety of Forms in ‘Romeo and Juliet.’  Consider How Different Characters Interpret the Meaning of Love.



Shakespeare presents love in many different ways, using many different styles and types of language.  I intend to present these different types of love.

Romeo and Juliet represent Romantic Love in this play.

In the very beginning of the play, Shakespeare uses the phrase ‘star-crossed lovers’ (prologue, line 6).  By using this one phrase, Shakespeare has already set apart the love of Romeo and Juliet, from the other types of love presented in the play.  On one level, this phrase is suggesting that their love is fated.  This is also true throughout the play.  There are many words and sentences that serve as reminders of their tragic destiny.

 ‘Star-crossed lovers’ is also a clever play on words.  There are numerous references to the way that their true love lights up the skies.  For example:

‘It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden;

Too like the lightening, which doth cease to be

Ere one can say  “it lightens”’

(Act 2, Scene 2).

Romeo’s first reaction to Juliet is that she

‘doth teach the torches to burn bright’

(Act 1, Scene 5).

 When he catches sight of her in the orchard, she is the

‘light (breaking) through yonder window’

(Act 2, Scene 2).

        Juliet shares this view of their love.  Initially, she is suspicious of the suddenness of the feeling, fearing it is like lightening

‘which doth cease to be

                                        Ere one can say, “it lightens”’

                                                         (Act 2, Scene2),

yet by the wedding night she is making a comparison to the luminescent quality of Romeo’s love,

                                        ‘………… when I shall die

Take him and cut him out in to little stars,

                    And he will make the face of heaven so fine

That all the world will be in love with night.’  

(Act 3, Scene 2).

        Shakespeare has portrayed the two lovers in a way, which makes it seem as if the whole world stands still; and time stops when they are together.  There is an atmosphere of peace and stillness.  It is if they are in a world of love, unaffected by the physical concerns of the world around them.  This is reinforced by the intrusions of the outside world that interrupt each of their encounters.

        Shakespeare’s use of language brings to life the age-old ideal of true love - love at first sight.  Revealing the turmoil of emotions experienced by Romeo and Juliet, evoking moods of violence, tenderness, mirth, passion and terror.  The attraction of this type of romantic love lies mainly in the idea of love at first sight.  Romeo attends the Capulet’s party uninvited and on his first sighting of Juliet, is ensnared in to a completely different world, where everything is silent, still.  All thoughts of his past ‘love’ (Rosaline), which could be called no more than an infatuation, are forgotten.

        One of the phrases that is most famous, is Romeo’s expression of the love he is feeling for Juliet

‘Did my heart love till now?   Forswear it, sight!  

For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’

                                                         (Act 1, Scene 5).

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 In saying this, not only is Shakespeare presenting Romeo’s love for Juliet, but also his unrequited, artificial love for Rosaline.

        At the beginning of the play we see Romeo as being clever, excelling at elaborate word play.  

‘Not having that which, having, makes them short.’

(Act 1, Scene 1).

He uses witty puns when he jokes with his friends,

‘In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.’

(Act1, Scene 1).

  He then uses elaborate, stylish poetry when he talks about love,  

‘Well, in that hit you miss.  She’ll not be hit

With Cupid’s arrow:’ ...

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